First responders will soon be riding in military helicopters for rescue missions

CREVE COEUR, MO - Missouri emergency crews that rescue victims of natural disasters have a new weapon in their arsenal of tools. This one takes them sky high.

Randy Sanders is with Missouri Task Force 1 said, “This is huge for the state of Missouri we are one of five (states) in the nation that has put this program together”.

Training video showed Task Force 1 crews and Missouri Army National Guard members have teamed up to work hand in hand rescuing folks. The National Guard brings the helicopter and the task force has the trained rescue crews.   Sanders said it’s unusual for civilians to be working so closely with the military, “It’s very difficult to get civilians on the military aircraft.”

It’s taken years of planning and training.  People said the Helicopter Search and Rescue Team would have been helpful in recent floods here.  Kristen Troup is a Task Force 1 member and has been trained on the military helicopter.  She said, “They can get us there quickly, get us to the right spot and we can be more efficient getting people off the roofs.”

Troup has all the necessary equipment to do the job. The mother of three is married to a firefighter paramedic. Working out a helicopter is a high wire act, so is she afraid of heights?  Troup answered, “I’m not comfortable with them. Once you’re in a harness and either on a cable or a rope I work with a lot of good people we double check everything so its relatively safe.”

It’s a tough job that puts a lot of demands on the family. Sanders added, “They’re away from home for a week, ten days or two weeks at a time they leave at a moment’s notice.”

Kristen Troup said the sacrifice is worth it.  Troup said, “Anytime these disasters happen I feel like I need to be the one out there helping. I have the skills, I’ve been trained and I feel the need to help.”

They should begin using the chopper in rescues next spring. Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas are the other states that have the program in place.